It is time to speed up the approval process for energy development

Diana Furchtgott-Roth:
The economy is stumbling along at 2 percent annual GDP growth and employment growth continues to disappoint. One bright spot is energy, which is booming despite government obstacles. With more efficient regulation America could increase energy production, and next week Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) will release a bill to do just that.

A soon-to-be-released report by my Manhattan Institute colleague Mark Mills shows that even though U.S. employment is still below prerecession levels, jobs in oil and gas industries have grown by 40 percent since 2007, the start of the recession. With oil and gas adding $300 billion to $400 billion every year to the economy, Mills suggests that the United States might still be in a recession if not for oil and gas.

About 1 million Americans work directly in oil and gas, and another 10 million work in jobs linked to the industry, producing steel for pipelines, supertankers, and railcars. This job creation is not the result of "Big Oil," the five largest oil and gas companies, but from 20,000 small and midsize companies. Each employs fewer than 15 people, on average.

In addition, foreign companies are expanding, or relocating to the United States, due to inexpensive energy. An Egyptian firm is investing in a billion-dollar fertilizer plant in Iowa, and a South Korean tire company wants to build an $800 million factory in Tennessee.

Oil production has risen by 60 percent since the end of the recession in 2009. This growth has been in spite of federal government help, rather than because if it. Imagine how much more growth could have occurred if applications for permits for oil and gas exploration, as well as refinery construction, were approved in a more speedy manner.

"With so many Americans still unemployed or underemployed in the wake of the Great Recession, it is unconscionable that our government is not doing everything it can to get out of the way of any part of the economy where there is growth," Mills told me.

He continued, "In the last few years, the oil and gas sector, dominated by small and mid-sized companies, tens of thousands of them, has achieved astounding and broad-based job creation, more than in any other single segment of the economy."

Senator Cruz is listening. He wants to remove some of these regulatory obstacles to oil and gas development. One major disadvantage for any kind of business development is a lengthy, cumbersome, and unpredictable approval process. This deters new entrants, such as the very people who are creating jobs in oil and gas.

Cruz's bill would streamline the approval process for a number of projects.

This has been accomplished in Canada. Canada's Responsible Resource Development Act, passed in 2012, places timelines on regulatory approvals, normally two years from filing of completed application with the regulator.
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There is more.

Sen. Cruz is on the right track.  Unleashing our energy potential would boost the economy and create jobs instead of outsourcing those jobs to people who do not have our interest at heart.  It is time to end the Democrat policy of artificial scarcity which is causing us to use the same amount of oil, but having to import a significant amount of it rather than using our own.  The current energy regulation in the federal government makes no sense.

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